Travelling on a plane with toddlers is daunting to say the least, no matter how short the trip. When your children are under two, they fly for free, which means most of the time, they are on Mum or Dad’s lap, or both in our case since we have twins.
We recently went on a flight to Melbourne with our 20 month old boys and I was very prepared this time. They are a little bit older which means they need more activities to keep them amused.
The big mistake I made on the last flight was I had too many things. Puzzles and pens and paper and books. It was heavy, it was overwhelming, and we had two of each, so double the stuff. There were bits and pieces of puzzles and blocks spread through my carry-on, a massive pain to go through while toddler-wrangling.
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Here are some things that might make the trip with toddlers that little bit easier.
•Organisation is key One mistake I made on the first flight was taking a shoulder bag. It weighed me down while holding hands and chasing the boys, plus pushing and pulling suitcases. A backpack with a few pockets was perfect. A section for games and books, another area for snacks and drinks, plus nappies and a change of clothes. I knew what I was looking for and where, instead of digging around in a big shoulder bag.
• Less is better Take a few things you know will keep them amused. Try to stay away from things with lots of ‘pieces’ as it will leave you searching for that last bit of the puzzle. My two love to draw, so we took a few crayons, a couple of notepads, a book and an iPad. If you would rather stay away from ‘messy’ activities, check out mess-free colouring-in books. Fill the pen with water, and when it dries, you can colour it again.
• Embrace modern technology if it’s your thing My two are at the age where they will sit and watch The Wiggles. We downloaded a few episodes on our tablet, which kept them amused for ages. There are some great educational apps for toddlers as well, they can learn to count, listen to different animal sounds, or create patterns and match shapes. You can find a list here.
• Take enough food If you have fussy toddlers like I do, they likely won’t share Mum and Dad’s meal, but will happily eat something they’re familiar with. Stay away from messy, crumbly things, even though popcorn might seem like a good idea, it’s not very comfortable if it goes everywhere!
• Take something for your child to suck during take-off and landing The pressure can be a bit uncomfortable for adults let alone little ones, so remember the dummy, the bottle, or the lollies to help equalise their eardrums.
• Remember the Panadol There's nothing worse than having a sick child develop a fever on a plane. It's also great to have just in case your child develops an earache from take-off or landing. Definitely remember to add it to your carry-on bag, but if you are going on an international flight, just be aware there is a limit on liquids to carry on (50ml), so bring the small bottle with you.
• Pinterest has great ideas for activities If you're stuck with creative and educational ideas for long flights, Pinterest has loads of cool things for toddlers.
• Don’t be afraid to walk up and down the aisles When the seatbelt sign is off you are free to roam the cabin, so you can take your toddler for a little walk every now and then to stretch his legs.
• Start giving your child an Immune Booster or vitamin a few weeks beforehand if you don’t already Small areas, lots of people, you’d rather enjoy your holiday instead of have a sick child at your destination, right?
• Just smile and don't worry People are pretty understanding if your child has a meltdown on a plane and even if they're not, try not to let it bother you. When the air hostess comes to your seat, wine often works well.
I hope these few ideas have helped contribute to making the journey with young children as smooth as possible. It might seem daunting, but the destination makes it all worthwhile.